Letters to the Editors

In defense of religion

Dear Editors:
Re: “ ‘A virtue out of ignorance” ’ (Journal, January 16, 2007).

The world is plagued by bloodshed and oppression. This is an obvious statement. The causes of these atrocities are typically numerous but often reduced to one basis—religion.

This is a great over-simplification and really doesn’t give credit to the value of religion. Throughout history, religion has helped unite people, and some of the most valuable discoveries have occurred under religious tenets. While illiteracy was running rampant, world religions stepped up to embrace knowledge. Christian monks copied out books by hand before the invention of the printing press.
Thanks to Muslim scholars, we have much of the math that exists today; algebra and geometry were established by Muslim leaders. A Jewish scientist, Albert Einstein, was dubbed “man of the century” in Time magazine for his work in theoretical physics. History shows that religions and religious people have caused some of the most powerful changes and helped the greatest numbers of people in times of need. Buddhist monks helped turn the tide of public opinion during the Vietnam War through self-sacrifice.

A Catholic nun stood up for India’s poor and neglected. It was an ascetic Hindu who ended British rule in India through peaceful protest. A Christian preacher brought rights to African-Americans through peaceful means in the United States. The tolerance and love for thy neighbour expressed in every
religion hasn’t always withstood the influence of racism and patriarchal societies, but can religion as a whole be blamed for that?

Religions have professed ideals of morality, truth and justice. This common foundation often brings
people of various faiths together as a united force on important issues. This letter is an example of
addressing misconceptions about an integral and ancient part of humanity. It’s endorsed by various faith groups from the Queen’s community. It has support from Kelly Tindale and Richard Pettypiece of Interfaith Council, and has the backing of Queen’s University Muslim Students Association, Navigators,
Hillel and Campus Association for Bahai Studies. To generalize all religions based on the acts of a few religious leaders over the course of history is to overshadow and ignore all the benefits which religion has brought to the world.

Noah Bonder
ArtSci ’08 and Interfaith Council chair

Dear Editors:
Re: “ ‘A virtue out of ignorance” ’ (Journal, January 16, 2007).

It’s important to realize that just because people do something in the name of religion, doesn’t mean the religion has anything to do with it. We should not judge a religion based on how some people
practice it, but on what it teaches. Furthermore, the interpretation of religious texts are only for those who have studied them. Although the Qur’an is the literal word of God, it doesn’t mean you can’t try to scrutinize it. Many have done so in the past, but keep in mind the Qur’an is complex—you must study it
correctly before having the ability to scrutinize it. There have been leaders in the past who have called for war in the name of religion but does this mean you should simply assume that he or she is correctly
doing so? Women have as equal a status as men in Islam; it’s only the media, incorrect logic and common misconceptions that cause people to think otherwise. Read the book Fatima’s Fatima by Ali Shariati if you want to understand women in Islam. It’s incorrect to assume that suicide bombers will gain access to heaven. This is only for those who legitimately die for the sake of God.

It’s obvious that to die for the sake of God has to be in accordance with His principles. In Islam, war
can only be declared in defense of oneself. If you want to understand the concept of martyrdom in Islam, look at the example of Hussain bin Ali, the grandson of the Holy Prophet, who sacrificed his life for the sake of Islam. The ruler who was in power wanted to change the doctrines of Islam and he fought against oppression to save Islam. It’s interesting to note that he was fighting against people who
claimed to be Muslims following a corrupt Islamic government, but he represented the Islam of Mohammed and thus represented the truth. Mahatma Ghandi said, “I learnt from Hussain how to betyrannized and win,” and he knew what he was talking about. This is just one example of religion being used correctly.

Moosa Fadhel
ArtSci ’08

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